Expressivism, or more generally moral anti-realism, is an area of tremendous philosophical endeavor these days, despite being counterintuitive to plain persons and a research program which has a history of making progress only at the cost of eliminating distinctions between itself and its rivals. (OK, so I tipped my hand there.) Why is it so popular? What are the fundamental motivations behind it, and which is/are primary? Or in other words, why do so many smart people think they can’t be moral realists? I can think of four motivations, but I couldn’t say which is uppermost in people’s minds. Since there are no doubt plenty of anti-realists who read this blog, maybe they can improve my understanding.
- Naturalism. Since the scientific world view contains no values, our moral discourse better not refer to any.
- Motivational considerations of a broadly Humean sort. Since moral commitments motivate and realist beliefs never do, moral commitments are not realist beliefs.
- The agent-centered perspective. We are agents and not merely spectators. Moral realism gives us a false, spectatorial picture of moral thought. Anti-realism gives us the true, agential (e.g. “planning-laden”) view of moral thought.
- Realism ressentiment (operating at the Freudian level, if at all.) It’s somehow distasteful/oppressive/square for there to be objective values which constrain the rightness of our choices.
Survey says…? (And feel free to debate the merits of any of these motivations.)